|This article does not cite any references or sources. (March 2008)|
Cosmic Cavern is a limestone cave located in north Arkansas, near the town of Berryville, Arkansas. One brochure for the cave touts it as "Arkansas' Most Beautifully Decorated Cave." It is the "warmest" cave in the Ozarks, having a high humidity holding at a constant 62 degrees year-round. Most caves in the area are between 55° and 60°.
One section of the cave housing a particularly spectacular group of soda straws has been dubbed "Silent Splendor." One of the longest soda straw formations in the Ozarks, this large formation has straws hanging up to nine feet in length.
Lakes and life in the cave
Cosmic Cavern has two cave lakes reported to be bottomless, since cave divers have never found the bottoms. They are among the largest underground lakes in the Ozarks. The south lake was artificially stocked with trout in the 1920s, and many of the remaining trout have become blind and have lost their pigmentation; however, there are openings to external water bodies, as trout from the cave are occasionally found in nearby surface bodies of water.
Rainfall is known to dramatically change the water level in the cave, which can fill and empty rapidly.
Other life in the cave includes the Ozark Blind Cave Salamander. This salamander is endemic to the Ozarks, where it is found in several caves. It is related to the Olm (Proteus anguinus). Though there are also crawdads in the cave, these are not believed to be native.
Discovery and history
Cosmic Cavern was discovered in 1845 by a prospector named John Moore, who was searching for lead. The areas near the entrance to the cave were, upon its discovery, mined for much of its onyx. Soot from their torches can still be seen. Since these early visitors of the cave were afraid of bats, they originally dropped burning tires into the cave to smoke them out. After 70 years, the population is just now beginning to return.
The cave changed hands more than 14 times until its present owners, the Randy Langhover family, bought it in 1980.
Reportedly, the gangsters Bonnie and Clyde were in the neighborhood in the early 1930s. They used the road west of the cave as an escape from Missouri lawmen. They cruised by with a storekeeper they had kidnapped in Missouri in 1933, on their way to releasing him in the Berryville square.
Publicity and tours
Cosmic cavern hosts a regular tourist tour as well as a "wild" cave tour. The "wild" cave tour takes visitors into the undeveloped parts of the cave where the most spectacular formations are found. The gift shop has a small museum on the second floor, highlighting some of the cave's history. One of the exhibits is a large sign that was found crumpled in a ditch, dating from when the cave was called "Mystery Cave."
The cave is part of the National Caves Association.